"The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our Lord stands forever. Isaiah 40:8

27 March 2006

Taking a Break

After only 5 months of blogging I feel worn out. I started a blog to get some of my thoughts down in writing never realizing that the experience would take on a life of its own. I need to take a break and decide if and how I want blogging to fit into my life.

Marla has decided to quit blogging and most of her reasons for quitting are the same thoughts that have crossed my mind the last few days. Seeing those reasons written out so well by Marla has confirmed some things for me, so now I just need time to think those things through.

I'll be back once I've made some decisions.

24 March 2006

Thank You Lord

Things that I am thankful for today:

1. A Godly husband who loves the Lord as much as I do.
2. Beautiful, healthy children.
3. A bible-believing, spirit-filled Church where someone accepts Christ just about every week.
4. A job that pays the bills.
5. A Savior that died so I could be saved.

19 March 2006

Free Blogger Templates

Carol asked me about my blog template as she has a friend looked for something beyond the default template. Someone asked me this before so I thought I would just post a couple of sites that I have found that offer free blogger templates in case anyone else feels like redecorating.

http://bloggertemplatesbycaz.blogspot.com/
http://blog-templates.ravasthi.name/
http://www.pannasmontata-templates.net/?page_id=215

Not an exhaustive list but these were some sites I had bookmarked. There are usually instructions on the sites. If you know nothing about html it may be a little daunting to make the change yourself but it's not terribly difficult.

Along those lines, I've been thinking of changing my template to a less feminine look. I don't want to turn off any potential male readers when they see the blog name and then the womanly design. Unfortunately, I'm not ready to pay for my own template so I'll have to look over the freebies again.

Of Posts to Come

Just a few random thoughts...

I changed the description of my blog from "The thoughts, struggles and opinions of one Christian woman" which had already been changed from my original " The thoughts of one Christian woman" to the new description of "One woman's walk with the Lord (stumbles included)".

I've been thinking a lot about why I blog and what purpose if any does it serve. Also, is the purpose worth the effort. Well, I don't have answers yet for all of those but I have come to realize that my purpose in writing here is to share my walk with the Lord. My first description sounded like it was too much about me when it's really about Him. As with anything on this blog, my description is subject to change without notice.

I'm hoping to add the remaining 49 points to my 99 Things About Me. My husband keeps asking me if I have finished this yet so clearly he would like to more about me also. I guess I really am an introvert.

I have some other post topics in mind including finishing my testimony but have been busy as usual. If only I could sleep less...

Which brings me back to organization. Still just a thought in progress but I will have to get there sooner or later or I'll lose what little sanity I have. I think I just came up with #51 for my list - I'm a procrastinator.

17 March 2006

My Version of A Recovering Catholic

I mentioned in my list of 50 Things About Me that I was a recovering Catholic. Someone asked me in the comments to that post what that term meant so I thought I would go ahead and make a full post since my answer is a bit too long for the comments section.

First, the commenter also mentioned reading the term “recovering Catholic” in a newspaper article so I can’t say my definition is necessarily the same as others. I would guess that there are people who grew up Catholic that now don’t believe in a God that may also call themselves “recovering Catholics”. That’s not my personal definition.

I grew up in a Catholic family. I went to church every Sunday with my parents, was baptized as a baby, did first communion, confirmation, CCD, etc. Once I went away to college I only went to mass maybe twice on my own (except summers when I was home with my family). After all those years of religion I knew nothing about God, other than he existed. I don’t even think my family owned a Bible. If we did I never saw it. The same goes for my extended family and all of my friends that were Catholic.

Around the age of 27 I started to get interested in the Bible. Not so much the book itself, but in some of the stories from the Old Testament. I won’t go into the details as I’m hoping to write up my testimony soon. Anyway, I decided to try going back to church but wanted to try a Protestant church as my boyfriend (now my husband) had grown up in a Protestant environment and his family seemed more in touch with the Bible. In that church I heard the Gospel and accepted Jesus as my Savior and my life changed in an instant.

I call myself a recovering Catholic because by the grace of God I was able to overcome my entrapment. I believe that Catholicism is a dead religion that fools people into thinking they are bound for heaven when most are not. I believe this because of my own experience growing up in the Catholic church and because of my continual interaction with my Catholic family members and friends.

Of course I’m speaking in very general terms here as I do not know anyone’s heart, but I’m going with the odds based on my experience. Of all my Catholic family and friends I don’t know one that could tell me the Gospel message. I don’t know one that reads their bible and most don’t even own one. But I know that they all think that they will be going to heaven upon death simply because they believe in the existence of God and attend mass weekly.

I really could go on and on but I’d rather stop here. If anyone would like to discuss this further or would like me to elaborate on something I’d be more than happy to do it in a separate post or in the comments. There are clear doctrinal problems with Catholicism beyond what I know in my heart to be true. I may bring that up in a later post.

If anyone reading this is Catholic, I hope I haven’t upset you too much by what I have said here, but I must be honest. I personally don’t believe that you can have a legitimate relationship with Jesus Christ and be a Catholic. There is too much disparity. That may sound harsh but I’m willing to say it because I believe it whole-heartedly and I don’t mess around when it comes to salvation.

It breaks my heart that there are people who seem to be trying to follow God and are being mislead into a false sense of security. Since I currently have family members lost in this trap, I tend to take a hard stance on this. This is also why I take a hard stance on other religions that are not pointing people to the one true God . I guess it’s part of my “recovery” program.

Here is an excellent resource that states this better than I have here: Are Some Roman Catholics Saved

12 March 2006

You've Come a Long Way, Baby!

I have been recollecting a bit lately about what my life looked like just after I was saved. It’s interesting to remember how some things in my life changed instantly and how other things were harder to change. I am certainly far from Christ-like, but like that old advertisement says, “I’ve come a long way, baby!”

While it’s nice to see that I am making progress in my walk with the Lord, albeit slower than I care to admit, I mostly like to look back on my walk because of the insight it provides. Why did I struggle with certain areas, why did I fail in others? What can I learn from the bumps in the road?

When I gave my life to Christ I was in my late-twenties. I was a fairly responsible adult with a good job and pretty normal life. Therefore my conversion didn’t require many drastic changes in my outward life.

I did however love to listen to Howard Stern on the radio. For those who are not familiar with Howard, he had a talk radio program in the mornings that was quite funny but contained a lot of obscene content. I had listened to Howard for years, and while I was never fond of the obscene stuff, there was a lot of comical material in between that I loved.

Once I became a Christian I started to feel a bit awkward about listening to Howard’s program, but I didn’t stop. I’d turn off the radio when the topics got too lewd and tune back in later. I would disapprove of some of the language and antics, but it was funny. As long as I disapproved of the bad stuff and didn’t let it tempt me somehow, why couldn’t I enjoy it?

Looking back I realized why I justified my position for so long. It was because I didn’t want to change. Listening to that radio show was something I enjoyed - it made me laugh every morning. I didn’t want to give that up. So for many months I never even thought through whether it was right or wrong (certainly never seeked God’s counsel) because I didn’t want the answer.

I have come a long way from those days but I still struggle with some of these kinds of issues. Being in the world but not of the world can be tough. For me, it’s a daily struggle. But I have learned to question my motives to ensure that I’m seeking God’s will and not my own. Over the years many of my past enjoyments have disappeared from my life. But what God has in store for me instead is so much better. Why would I resist?

Organization Meets Biblical Study

I mentioned that I was ready to start instituting some order in my life. The first step was admitting I had a problem and needed to change. It’s now late on Sunday and I seem to have only moved into some sort of intent phase – probably doesn’t qualify as a step. I was hoping to have a plan drawn up before the end of the weekend but I just don’t see it happening at this point.

But I am serious about this plan. I will execute. Baby steps!

On a second note, I have finally taken the hint that I need to get serious about studying my bible. It’s been weighing on my mind and it keeps coming up in various ways. The Lord has infinite patience with me. If I had to keep after my own children as much as the Lord has to keep after me about some things, I’d go crazy.

Getting serious about my bible study is going to require some order in my life. Hmm…I see a connection.

Why do I mention all this? Because I believe these impending changes will be a large focus of this blog going forward with a sprinkling of random thoughts and opinions along the way.

I’m back to having a lot of posts stuck in my head that I just don’t have the time to post. Next week I’ll have blogger’s block. Oh well, keeps life interesting!

10 March 2006

Murky Blogging for the Christian

Okay, I’ve been mulling over this idea for a couple of weeks now and I’m finally gonna post on it. Most people will think I’m nuts, but that is okay. I have to at least share my concerns and then I can feel that I’ve done my part.

As a Christian I think it is always important to be careful who and what you associate with. Yes, I know I’m ending a sentence with a preposition but I don’t care – I have bigger fish to fry. I’m not saying you need to thoroughly evaluate everything you come into contact with before proceeding forward, but always keep your antennae up. If, as you are going along you start to sense something amiss, then stop and evaluate.

Bear with me. I really don’t want to go into specifics here of some actual examples I have seen where I believe this applies so this is difficult.

Let me try a strictly hypothetical example. Let’s say amongst the blogs I enjoy reading there is a blog by a secular mother who talks about mommy stuff. She has kids around my kid’s ages, she’s a bad cook like me, and she has a way of making me laugh and feel better about my less than stellar domestic skills. Everyday I look forward to reading posts by "mommy blogger".

Then one day I come across a piece of information that disturbs me about "mommy blogger". She’s pro-choice. In fact, she actually monetarily supports Planned Parenthood she’s so pro-choice. Okay, that upsets me for a few hours. But then I think - hey, I work and live among lots of pro-choice advocates, but I don’t stop interacting with them. So why should I let that keep me from not enjoying her blog. She doesn’t talk about pro-abortion stuff on her blog and that doesn’t detract from the wisdom and laughs I gain from her mothering antics. Reading someone’s blog isn’t necessarily an endorsement of what they do or believe outside of their writing. I’m mature enough to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Some time passes and I come across Heather’s blog post where she mentions that Clubmom.com is looking to PAY mothers who blog. Heather thinks this may be the start of a new trend of paid bloggers. That makes me think of my favorite "mommy blogger" - she writes great stuff, she deserves to get paid. Hopefully the traffic I sent her way (by linking to her, telling my friends) and the popularity she has gained will help her get the job…

But wait. What if she decides to donate part of her salary to Planned Parenthood? Could I now be partnering intentionally or unintentionally to abortion?? Am I willing to take that chance?

That may sound a bit far-fetched, but I hope you’ll think it over. Like I said in the beginning, if we stop to analyze everything we do in this fashion we would probably never leave the house. But if the information is suddenly right in front of you, take the time to actually seeks God’s will over it (through the scriptures, through prayer, through the counsel of others whom you trust). Don’t unintentionally partner yourself with people who are working against what is good in the sight of the Lord. And please don’t let your personal enjoyment of certain worldly things keep you from at least evaluating the things you do that may not be bringing glory to God.

Incognito Uncovered

Okay, I’m over myself with all this “niche” business. Thanks for listening.

Sometimes I have so many things kicking around in my head that I go into autopilot and that’s when I get silly. Silly is not want I want to be here. Well, maybe silly once in awhile as sometimes life just gets too serious. But I am VERY serious about the Lord and that’s what I want to focus on here.

So we’re heading back to our normal programming for the most part, but I think I might try to get a little more personal. In case you haven’t noticed, I don’t have any pictures of myself on here, heck I don’t even mention my name. I’m just some Christian girl out in Pennsylvania. The fact that I have a computer tells you I’m not Amish so you can narrow it down a little bit, but that’s still leaves you pretty much in the dark.

My point is that I HATE getting personal. The thought of putting my name and picture up on my blog would scare the daylights out of me. I’m just not a public person. I think it’s great that so many of you are the opposite (names, pictures, etc.).

Maybe I’m just a glutton for punishment but I feel the need to push past some of this. Maybe it’s because I enjoy the personal stuff I read at other people’s blogs and somehow it seems to enhance their writing – I don’t know. Don’t expect pictures or anything, but I may try to add some lists about myself like I’ve seen other people do. If my husband, who reads my blog, starts to goof on me then I will head back to reclusion. Ditto if the rest of you goof on me.

That’s all I have to say for now. Thanks to my 5 regular readers for hanging in there.

Too Slow?

Does my blog seem to load too slow? It seems slow to me lately and if others notice I'll have to try and hunt down the problem. I'm one of those people that will just click right out of a site if I have to wait too long so my loading time here concerns me. Please let me know!

09 March 2006

In Search Of...

In my search for my niche in the blogosphere, I went and read over my old posts. If you don’t know what this “search” is about, scroll down to my last post and read – sorry, I’m too lazy to link there. Anyway, I’ve only had a blog for a few months so it was easy enough to skim through my old posts and see if a theme jumped out.

I won’t keep you in suspense, I found no theme. However as I read through some of my old posts I thought, “Darn girl, that was good”. Unfortunately the “0 comments” listed under those same posts begged to differ. Here lies the rub.

I may come out with what I think is a real killer post, but if there are no comments I feel like I flopped. If my post sends a ping but no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound? If that last joke makes no sense to my readers, is it funny?

What am I trying to get at here? I don’t know! I feel like my funny side is struggling to get out but my humor is tough to blend with my faith. Humor is a big part of who I am, but it was cultivated before I knew Christ and is of the cynical - goof on other people - take-no prisoners kind of humor. I’m not sure I can find any middle ground.

The second issue for me is that I started this blog to write out my deeper thoughts which focus around the Lord. While I love to laugh, I’m also very serious and love to meditate on all of the wonderful things I know and learn about God. So I enjoy writing more insightful, inspirational stuff also.

So I guess I’m back to square one with the whole niche-thing. Well, not quite. I did have some revelation from reading my old posts and thinking about things but I’ll stop here before someone sends me a therapy bill for having to read all this.

08 March 2006

Reorganization Memo

Last week I had more ideas than I had time to post on. Luckily I wrote them down or they would be long gone, but I just haven't had the motivation to write. I started one post but got tired halfway through and abandoned it for now.

I'm in the process of getting my life in order. Well, I'm really in just the planning stages but one of these days I'll finally pull the trigger. The problem is that I'm a procrastinator, something that was easy to get away with when it was just me and even me and my huband. Not so easy once you have kids. They say the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem...

Part of my reorganization is deciding where I want to take this blog. My "theme" seems to be whatever pops into my head on a given day and I feel like it is adding to my disorder. I enjoy writing but I feel like I need to have more direction and more personality with this blog. I'm still trying to find my niche. Anyone happen to see it go by?

My top priority in my life right now is finding more time with God. I've had such a yearning the last few months to learn more about the Lord and draw closer to Him. Establishing some order in my life will hopefully help me find that time I need. I also feel the need to simplify my life.

So that is my focus right now. Making God my top priority. Sounds so simple but seems so hard. I hate to admit that, but it's true.

02 March 2006

Spectacles of Truth

I remember as a child when I got my first pair of glasses. As we drove home from the Optometrist I looked out the window of the car and was amazed at how clear the world had become. I would slip the glasses down my nose and look at everything all blurry and then slide the glasses back up and everything would be clear again. For a child that was a pretty amazing discovery.

Fast forward many years to my late-twenties. I had just accepted Jesus as my Savior and like that car ride home as a child with my new pair of glasses, the world around me suddenly became clear. No longer was I seeing my surroundings through my own fuzzy vision but through God’s spectacles of truth.

But like a child with a new pair of glasses, sometimes I seemed to misplace my spectacles of truth. Although my vision was now clear, there were some things I didn’t want to see. Things about myself that would require me to change or to move out of my comfort zone. And there were even times that I felt like hiding my glasses because they made me look different than everyone else. But that didn’t last long.

Over time I learned to love my spectacles of truth more and more. Now I would never take them off because there is nothing worth seeing without them. And I have become so reliant on them that I would be absolutely blind without them. Every now and then I get a little smudge on my spectacles, but eventually I wipe the smudge off or someone wipes it off for me.

Without my spectacles of truth I hate to think of where I could have ended up. Blind, lost, wandering aimlessly like so many others. It makes me sad to see so many that are blind. Perhaps if I wonder around with my spectacles on, I can hope that the blind will see me and understand. But better yet, if I go to the blind and let them look through my spectacles of truth and see the clarity, maybe then they will want their own pair.

01 March 2006

The Bible

Have you ever heard the question (which comes in different forms) that asks “If you were stranded on an deserted island with just one book, what would it be?”?

Of course you probably know my answer: "The Bible".

But I’d like to change the question around and ask, “What would be your ultimate selfish fantasy?” to which my answer would be: "To be stranded on a deserted island with just my Bible".

Unfortunately I didn’t have time to submit a post for this week’s Carnival of Beauty hosted at Just Marla, but many other women have written about the favorite book we all have in common, The Bible. Stop by and see what they have to say.

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